In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Mustafa Ali spoke about the stereotypes for wrestlers that look like him and how he hopes to change the idea that they have to act a certain way. Here are highlights:
On Daniel Bryan being responsible for him being on Smackdown: Ill never get a straight answer from him, but the inclination I have is enough reason to believe that Daniel Bryan is involved, more than hell ever say he is, with the recent interest in me. I know he brought the idea up of bringing me to SmackDown, and Im extremely grateful for the opportunity. Bryan is the guy who watches 205 Live and hes a big advocate for it. He went through the same ringer that a lot of the 205 Live guys are going through right now, being a smaller size and having to prove we can not only hang in the ring, but also capture the WWE Universes attention. If anyone understands the enormous mountain that cruiserweights like myself have to climb, its WWE champion Daniel Bryanwho not only climbed that mountain, but now stands atop it.
On overcoming stereotypes: I was that 16-year-old who loved WWE and I wanted to be a pro wrestler, but I didnt understand why I had to be the bad guy. I wanted to be like Jeff Hardy, I wanted to be like Rey Mysterio, but I was told I had to be the guy who screamed terrible things about America and attack people from behind. I want the next 16-year-old kid who looks like me to know hes not automatically the bad guy. Hopefully that kid can look at Mustafa Ali and say, Hey, hes not the bad guy, and I dont have to be, either. Everyone in the world, regardless if theyre Muslim or not, does not have to adhere to the label society slaps on you. No one defines you but you, and thats what Im fighting for.
On his appearance in The Secret Life of Muslims: I dont want people to see a Muslim. I want people to watch and see a human being dealing with fears, dealing with discrimination, and a person chasing a dream and the obstacles that come with them. I want people to see this and realize there is no difference between me and them. Life is already difficult, why are we making it any harder? This is about humanity, this is about the soul.